ISLAMABAD, Dec 9: Diplomats and keynote speakers on Friday called upon the governments of South Asia to take decisions for transformation of Saarc on the pattern of European Union for eradication of poverty and uplift of the region.

They advised the governments of South Asian region to improve trade and economic relations, promote culture and sports activities and combat corruption for economic growth and improving the standard of living of the huge population living in the region.

Speaking at 26th anniversary of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) here, Secretary General, PML-Q Mushahid Hussain Syed said political consideration had remained one of the biggest hurdles in the development of Saarc region housing 22 per cent of the world population.The function was organised by Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mushahid Hussain said that the growth of the region had been projected to surpass 50 per cent of the world’s GDP by 2030 that calls for immediate steps by Pakistan to boost intra-regional trade lest we miss the boat.

The contribution of South Asia in the Global GDP is less than 2 pc and its share in exports is only 1.5 pc. “This does not reflect our true potential,” he added.

He said that for greater Asia we should enhance cooperation with China, Iran, Afghanistan and Myanmar.

“Global balance of economic power is changing from West to Asia and Saarc has became an important organisation,” he said.

Deputy High Commissioner India Gopal Bagly speaking on the occasion said that Saarc had achieved many milestones and many still to be achieved by promoting cooperation among the member states.

He said many important agreements like connectivity through rail, road and air among the Saarc member states being negotiated were needed to be concluded at the earliest.

“This would help achieve the desired results for promoting trade and economic cooperation among the member states,” Mr Baglay said.

Deputy High Commissioner Bangladesh Mehfooz-ur-Rehman said that Saarc still needed to work collectively for achieving the goals like economic growth and prosperity in the region for wellbeing of generations to come.

Durga Prasad Bhandari, Deputy High Commissioner Nepal termed SAARC as success and said that it had helped exchange ideas for regional development.

While Iftikhar Ali Malik, vice President Saarc CCI said that the purpose of Saarc was to ensure the welfare of almost two billion people and trade expansion was the best way to ensure regional economic corporation which required collective and collaborative strategies and joint ventures.